Honouring RUSA Player Life Member - Emma Yates (2023)

Wed, May 31, 2023, 12:00 AM
Rugby Union SA
by Rugby Union SA
SA LEGEND: Emma Yates (left) has been a stalwart of RUSA and Southern Suburbs for more than two decades.
SA LEGEND: Emma Yates (left) has been a stalwart of RUSA and Southern Suburbs for more than two decades.

Rugby Union South Australia is recognising the efforts of player life members Kathryn Van Diemen, Emma Yates, Sarah Batsavalis & life member Kim Evans across a four-part series.

Emma Yates

When Emma Yates sat down at last year’s now-renamed Don Smith Awards night and watched the life member nominations, one question kept circling her brain.

"Where are all the girls?"

Fast-forward to 2023 and the Southern Suburbs legend is again making history as one of four trailblazing women recognised as RUSA life members.

“Last year, I brought it up at the awards night after seeing a bunch of the boys nominated for life membership and I kept wondering what they’ve done for the game that we haven’t,” Yates told RUSA.

“What have they done differently that we haven’t achieved and worked for already within our game?”

“So being named a player life member at the AGM is a massive honour personally but for me it’s bigger than that - these awards are recognition for our rugby women and they’re also steps to even the playing field in our game.”

Southern Suburbs Rugby Union Club are pleased to announce that Emma Yates will be coaching our women's team in 2022. A...

Posted by Souths Rugby Union on Sunday, February 13, 2022

Yates’ rugby career dates back to her Onkaparinga debut as a 13-year-old playing under her sister’s name – “I remember checking the paper and reading Leanne had scored a try, but it was me!” – but there’s no place like home for the veteran player-coach.

“Souths is literally my home. I’ve raised our kids there, I've won 14 premierships there and I’ve grown up with those women for the past 21 years,” Yates said.

“I was 15 when I first started at Souths and I love having so many of the same people still around.

"Sarah Batzavalis used to pick me up and drive me to games and now she’s still playing and coaching juniors, Kellee Madden still plays (when I can convince her) and she’s still in the kitchen and heavily involved as well.”

“It’s such a beautiful community with a core of strong women who don’t do drama and have a no bullshit policy as well.”

souths women win rusa 2022

Yates’ love for rugby also extends past AA Bailey and into the realm of rep footy, which she hopes will continue to develop in South Australia.

“I love seeing all these Super W pathways building now and watching these young girls come up and get a shot,” she said.

“Going forward, I’d love to see a Central Allied team of RUSA, NT Rugby and maybe Tassie have a go in Super W so we can keep giving our girls better opportunities.

“We’d only have one rep tour a year at nationals back in the day but they gave you a chance to meet other club players and build new relationships you never would have otherwise.

“Kim Evans and Catherine Arnfield were massive in that space – we’d try and pull teams together, head over to Darwin & Hong Kong, places like that, and they were always so much fun.

Emma Yates w Black Falcons 2023

“I’m pretty sure we won the Kowloon 10s competition five years in a row so we weren’t bad either!”

Returning to the RUSA women’s competition, Yates and her Souths outfit remain undefeated after six games.

However, there’s plenty to like about this year’s edition with all top five sides taking games off each other in the opening two months.

“We’ve beaten some teams convincingly, but Burnside and Woodville have shown they’re up for it and they’ve been a great test so far. There’s a lot of raw talent in South Australian rugby at the moment and that’s great to see," Yates said.